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It’s Mostly Invisible

Johnny Molson

  • Why did you choose the car you drive?
  • How did you decide on Dr. Pepper?
  • What made you fall in love with him?
  • Who told you it was the right laptop for you?

These are logic-based questions.  But their answers are emotional.

  • “I like the look of it, and it felt good when I drove it.”
  • “It’s my favorite.  I love the way it tastes.”
  • “He’s always romantic and we laugh all the time.”
  • “I have a friend who’s really good with technology.  I trust him.”

Logic and emotion don’t play in the same ballpark.  They’re not even in the same town.

Ever try to “logic” your way back into a relationship after a breakup?  Can you explain, rationally, why your arm swings out in front of your kid when you have to make a fast stop in the car?

The reasons we do the things we do sit deep in the limbic part of our brains.  It’s waaayyy down there.  One of the first parts of the brain to form.

Harvard Professor Dr. Gerald Zaltman states that 95% of customer’s decisions happen in the subconscious.  “Sub.”  As in underneath.  Hidden away.  Inaccessible by the logic parts of our brains.

While your competition is bumbling around stating factual attributes about a product, you…(you smart cookie, you)…are making an emotional connection.  You’re speaking to what matters to the heart of your customer, because the brain has little to do with it. 

“They” will call it fluff, but you and I know better.  The fluff, frosting, and decorations are the things that attract us to the cake.  Certainly, it needs to have the correct portions of flour, eggs, and sugar…but those merely logical attributes.  When your competition gets stuck on facts and features (how long he’s been in business, lowest prices, friendly staff), he’s doing the equivalent of telling customers “My cake has 4 eggs and 3 cups of flour.”

Who cares?  Isn’t that supposed to be in there anyway?

A taste test study demonstrated that if you give kids carrots that appear to come from McDonald’s, over half of them will say they “taste better” than “ordinary” carrots. 

McDonald’s doesn’t sell carrots.

You can’t outsmart your subconscious.    

The decisions we make are mostly invisible.

It happened to you just a few paragraphs up.  Sure, I could have just said, “95% of customer’s decisions happen in the subconscious.”  That is an accurate statement.  But I intentionally escalated the statement by preceding it with “Harvard,” then “professor,” and the title “doctor.”  Without clicking the link to check me, you felt a sense of credibility.  You don’t know Dr. Zaltman, you don’t know his resume, and you don’t know if he graduated last in his class.

Our brains are looking for ways to make quick associations.  The less it needs to think about “other stuff,” the better.   “Harvard” “Professor” “Doctor” is plenty.  Your brain already made the association before you were aware of the conclusion that was made.  By the time you’re conscious of it, the feeling was already there.  Then you apply the logic.

I “like” that SUV.  I’ve never sported or utilitied in a vehicle, but just in case…I “feel good” having it.

Customers need to like you before they need you.  And “like” is mostly invisible.

Johnny Molson

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